Keown: This Liverpool star is off form - Lukaku is the bigger threat

Romelu Lukaku

Former Arsenal star Martin Keown says that Liverpool's Mario Balotelli is not at the top of his game and Everton's Romelu Lukaku is a bigger threat.

Martin Keown says that Mario Balotelli hasn't switched the power back on yet since being signed by Liverpool.

The 24-year-old Italian striker was purchased from AC Milan by the Reds this summer as the looked to add goals to their side, but he is yet to hit the back of the net in the league in his three appearances. 

It is a run of form that has punctured some of the excitement that was created by his acquisition and Keown believes that he is playing below his top standard. 

Balotelli takes on Everton this weekend and he has the chance to make himself a hero by scoring in the derby against Liverpool's closest rivals, but it also pits him against another marquee striker in Merseyside.

Everton splashed out a club-record £28 million to sign Romelu Lukaku from Chelsea and Keown, a former Everton player, says that he would be more intimidated by facing the Toffees' front-man than Balotelli.

When asked by the Daily Mail, who he would prefer to face, he said: "At this moment in time, probably Balotelli. I don’t think he’s quite switched the power back on yet.

"We have not seen the electric pace we saw in Euro 2012, though he does look a happy player under Brendan Rodgers. On any day Lukaku can destroy a defender but there is no consistency in his play.

"Everton have not had a good start but Saturday could be one of those unstoppable Lukaku days. But right now I don’t think Balotelli is quite up to speed in the Premier League so I’d rather look after him on the day."

Lukaku has scored twice over the opening period of the season, but he still hasn't managed to get Everton to reach the standards they did last year.

Roberto Martinez's men have fallen short of the standard they set in the previous campaign and they have only been able to claim one victory in their first five Premier League matches.

Similarly, Liverpool's displays so far have been concerning. The Reds returned to the top four last season, but they have been off the pace so far, losing three times already.

It means that the Merseyside derby has an added edge to it this time around, as it represents a chance for both sides to get their season back on track, whilst heaping further misery onto their rivals. 

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